Camp helps Borenstein heal from sister's death

Camp helps Borenstein heal from sister's death

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels prospect Zach Borenstein enters his first Major League Spring Training with a broken heart.

On the afternoon of Jan. 25, weeks before he would report to Tempe Diablo Stadium as the California League's 2013 MVP, Borenstein's younger sister, Katie, passed away due to a blood clot in her pulmonary artery.

Katie, a 20-year-old attending Illinois State University, died suddenly at her apartment near campus. Now, tattooed on the outfielder's left forearm are lyrics from a song his friend wrote about her:

I know heaven got the prettiest angel tonight

"It was a huge shock," Borenstein said Monday. "I'm still kind of shocked about it. It's never a good time for it, but it made it hard to practice and prepare and do all sorts of things. But it's good to be out here and kind of take my mind off it a little bit."

This was supposed to be a fun spring for Borenstein, 23, who's ranked 12th in the Angels' system. He's coming off a phenomenal season for Class A Inland Empire, which saw him bat .337 with 28 homers and 95 RBIs, and is looking to put himself on the Angels' depth chart at Double-A Arkansas in 2014.

Understandably, though, it's been hard to focus.

"When it happened, I couldn't eat food for four or five days, I didn't work out for 10 days, I didn't want to practice baseball," Borenstein said. "You just find that you don't really have a drive to do anything, really, just because it's so surreal. It was just hard to find passion in other things again. A week before we got here, I kind of had to force myself to start doing some things physically. So I was a little behind the ball, playing catch-up when I got here. But about a week has gone by, and I feel OK now. The environment here has helped a lot."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.